Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Ash Wednesday--Just Waiting in Line
So was a youngster--age about 8--who looked up at his Mother.
Son: Mom, are we in line?
Mother: There is no line. This isn't school. This is life."
--from the New York Times
I stand in a long and winding line.
In some ways I’ve been standing here
all my life
waiting, waiting my turn.
I remember my terror waiting in line
to get that shot in school.
I remember waiting in line with all the
other scouts hoping to be picked to play.
I remember that line when, in cap
and gown, I reached out for my diploma.
There have been so many lines—
waiting to get baptized, to get my driver’s license,
to get married—to wait with all
the other men for the Doctor to come
and say: “It’s a girl...”
All my life, it seems I have been waiting
in some line.
Sometimes scared, sometimes bored—
And today I stand waiting in yet another line.
Waiting for what?
I do not rightly know.
To have someone mark my forehead
with a smudge.
To hear those painful words: “Dust thou art
and to dust you shall return.”
To remember moments ago we penitents prayed
together: “Have mercy upon me O God...”
To move away marked by a smudged cross—
That wherever I go and whatever I do—
To try to remember that I will be
or just forgiven.
And so, I stand in this long line
(I first wrote this poem last Ash Wednesday. Because I still stand in too many lines, because I greatly need to stand in this line--I share it with all the others that stand in line hopefully waiting.)